Charliecloud: Unprivileged Containers for User-Defined Software Stacks in HPC

Thursday, November 02, 2017 - 9:45 am10:30 am

Michael Jennings, Los Alamos National Laboratory


Supercomputing centers are seeing increasing demand for user-defined software stacks (UDSS), instead of or in addition to the stack provided by the center. These UDSS support user needs such as complex dependencies or build requirements, externally required configurations, portability, and consistency. The challenge for centers is to provide these services in a usable manner while minimizing the risks: security, support burden, missing functionality, and performance. We present Charliecloud, which uses the Linux user and mount namespaces to run industry-standard Docker containers with no privileged operations or daemons on center resources. Our simple approach avoids most security risks while maintaining access to the performance and functionality already on offer, doing so in just 900 lines of code. Charliecloud promises to bring an industry-standard UDSS user workflow to existing, minimally altered HPC resources.

Michael Jennings, Los Alamos National Laboratory

Michael Jennings has been a UNIX/Linux Systems Administrator and a C/Perl developer for over 20 years and has been author of or contributor to numerous open source software projects including Eterm, Mezzanine, RPM, Warewulf, and TORQUE. Additionally, he co-founded the Caos Foundation, creators of CentOS, and has been lead developer on 3 separate Linux distributions. He currently works as a Scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and is the primary author/maintainer for the LBNL Node Health Check (NHC) project. He is also the Vice President of HPCXXL, the extreme-scale HPC users group.

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Presentation Audio

@conference {207229,
author = {Michael Jennings},
title = {Charliecloud: Unprivileged Containers for User-Defined Software Stacks in {HPC}},
year = {2017},
address = {San Francisco, CA},
publisher = {{USENIX} Association},